Originality Is Dead


Last year, filmmaker Kirby Ferguson released a three part film called Everything is a Remix. Now, spoiler alert, this film will probably ruin any image of the people, films, and information portrayed shown in the documentary and make you skeptical of any new movie you see this year. In true remix form, I decided to apply some of those same ideas to movies released after January 2015.

Source: Google Images

Since January, 18 of the top 25 highest grossing movies were either a sequel, second in a series, a remake, or a movie based off of a book, 7 of those 18 being found in the top 10 of the year. The other 7 are not entirely original either. “Home”, a new movie by Fox, seems to be an animated film that seems to look very similar to the storyline of “E.T.”

So what does this tell us about our culture?  In the movie industry it is a whole lot easier to just recreate something that has already been done, or continue with something that they created last year.  There is not as much risk involved if you know that the movie you are creating already has some sort of a following. Even outside of those 18 movies, the others followed a general style that people already know. Animation, over the top comedy (probably with most of same jokes seen in other films by the two main stars), action, and of course a Disney film.

Music follows this same idea.  There is no artist who is doing anything original, but following a style and genre that appeals to them.  The biggest identifier of this is the idea of the “4 Chords Song”.  Hundreds, if not thousands of songs are based on a basic 4 chord structure that is just changed around, or not all.  This is best demonstrated by the guys at Axis of Awesome, whose rendition of the 4 Chords Song features 47 different songs, most that have been top Billboard charts. This can also be seen in any country song you’ve ever heard, and the fact that every single one is basically the same, just with a different woman and a different brand of beer, but thats a rant I’ll leave for another day.

Have we lost our ability as a society to create anything new?  With so many years of movies, music, and design, is it even possible to create anything that no one has before, or at least create something based on a style that already exists? The biggest example of this phenomena is your mother’s favorite website, Pinterest. Pinterest thrives on this idea of seeing someone else’s work and recreating it as your own.  They have even renamed the experience “DIY”.

Now, through all this I also have no right to judge. As an aspiring filmmaker myself it is and has been impossible for me to create any movie or short sequence that does not draw any influence from anything else I have seen. I am constantly watching films, documentaries, YouTube and Vimeo videos, all hoping to see how someone else accomplishes something in hopes of doing the same. And after all this research I believe that sentence right there lead me to my answer.

Source: Google Images
Source: Google Images

Anyone who has ever done great things in this world has built upon the work that was started by someone else. It is foolish to think you were ever the first to do anything, and unwise to try to make that claim.  Any great accomplishment was not done by anyone alone, but because of a collective effort to create something that would transcend time and make it easier for those in the future to accomplish their goals as well. Sir Isaac Newton is quoted as saying, “If I have seen further then others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

With all that being said, you have the opportunity to go out and build upon something that was started by those before you.  A great foundation has been set for you, and you must be willing to build a structure upon it, and not be afraid for walls to fall down along the way.  While originality may be dead, the ability to recognize great things and expand on them is being just as creative as anyone who has come before you.

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